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Meal Planning #4 (Building Blocks)

I want to make this whole topic of meal planning and its application accessible to my readers, but I am also aware that taking the time to sit down, plan, and execute healthy meals consistently is NOT easy. It requires a lot of dedication and faithfulness.


What I’m not trying to do is minimize your presence in the kitchen. I’m not trying to help you make “fast food”. Quite the opposite, I think there’s a general lack of willingness, and even disdain to spend any time or effort at all around the preparing or eating of healthy meals.


I am hoping to try to show you how to re-enter the kitchen with a new perspective and allow it to be woven into your life in a holistic way. I want to deconstruct the barrier between “kitchen” and “life” and present a more integrated definition of home in which the kitchen informs and influences everything else! I know, this is fairly radical. It seems a lot to ask in this busy culture where it’s hard to find time for anything. But without a doubt, if it’s important to you, you will find a way to incorporate it into your life. This is true of anything.


Today I’m sharing two of my favorite things to make in my kitchen. They are simple, comforting, nutritious and well-loved by my family. They function superbly on their own, or as building blocks for another meal.


Megan’s Chicken Broth:

1 whole chicken

4 chicken feet (optional, but these definitely fortify your broth)

2 stalks celery, cut in rough chunks

2 carrots, cut in rough chunks

1 onion, cut in rough chunks

10 peppercorns

3 bay leaves

A handful of fresh herbs (my favorite are thyme, rosemary, and oregano)

A glug of apple cider vinegar (helps extract nutrients from bones)


Put all the ingredients in a large pot. Cover with good quality cold water. Bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to the lowest setting your stove top goes. Skim the surface foam of the liquid with a spoon and discard the impurities into the compost. Cover pot. After about two hours, or when the meat of the chicken easily pulls off, use tongs to remove the chicken and then pick the meat off with two forks. Save the meat for pot pie, rice bowls, tacos, salad, or whatever else you’d like. Return the carcass to the pot, cover, and let cook 24 hrs. Broth should never boil.


Broth Rice


This is the most comfortable comfort food ever. It’s all I ever want to eat postpartum, except I add even more butter after the rice cooks. By cooking the rice in broth, you’re also ensuring everyone gets the benefits of the broth. What kid won’t eat rice?

Serves our family of 2 adults and 3 children


A big knob of butter

1 onion, chopped

2 cups white rice-any kind will do as long as it’s good quality

Salt and freshly ground pepper

4.5 cups chicken broth


Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed pot on medium heat. Add the onions, about 1 teaspoon of salt, and a generous amount of fresh ground pepper, to your taste. Cook the onions, 10-15 minutes until very soft and starting to carmelize. Do not skip this step because it’s the slow cooking of the onions that help make the dish taste so good. Add the rice and stir everything around. Add the broth, bring to a boil, then turn to the lowest setting of heat and cover. Let cook 30-45 minutes until rice is soft.


Notes:

Adding freshly grated parmesan hearkens the dish to cacio e pepe (a simple Italian pasta dish)


We eat this with fried eggs most lunches. It could be great with roasted vegetables mixed in and shredded chicken for a rice bowl of sorts. Or use it as a stuffing base for baked stuffed squash.



I consider these two recipes to be foundations essential to creating kitchen-centricity. If you can make stock or brothy rice by heart than you’re well on your way!


Until next time,

Megan


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